Aan | Dada Distractions | PDX-015 (Nov 18th, 2016)
Bud Wilson started writing and recording songs under the Aan moniker a decade ago, as an avenue of expression for his darker thoughts and feelings about love and domesticity. Several EPs, a couple unofficial LPs and a full-length later, he’s still mining the quarry of discontent. Lately there’s a lot to mill.
As bad years go, Wilson’s 2015 was a motherfucker. Two close friends died. He closed the book on a six-year relationship. His Aanbandmates moved away or moved on. His native Portland became steadily less familiar and more expensive.
The only constant seemed to be Wilson’s love of making music. And after briefly considering closing shop with Aan entirely, he doubled-down instead. While accompanying players have come and gone, Aan remains a container versatile and earnest enough to hold everything Wilson is going through, from bad dreams to bad years. Despite lineup changes, the band’s live show consistently purveys a sense of catharsis through stuttering, unexpected rhythms and spooky chord progressions that conspire to form a cycle of queasy unease and soaring melodic relief. Musical passages can turn from droning proto-motorik to explosive aggro-dub without warning. Somewhere between avant garde jazz and heavyweight Northwest sludge, Aan finds musical kin in everything from Fugazi to Faust; Soundgarden to Stereolab. But Wilson’s alternately ornate and grinding vocals keep the Portland outfit from clinging too tightly to comparisons.
Wilson has plenty of time on the road to refine his band’s sound and spirit. Aan has toured extensively alongside The Smashing Pumpkins, Built to Spill, Wye Oak, Preoccupations (FKA Viet Cong) and hundreds of other notable acts. The band’s dynamic, explosive live sound can be heard loud and clear on Aan’s new record, Dada Distractions. Aan’s touring sound engineer, Gabriel Nardin, stepped in to help craft songs for the band’s second official full-length, which will again be released via Portland’s Party Damage Records. The two posted up in various studios in both Portland and Seattle, crafting songs of loss, frustration, and freedom. Then producer Riley Geare (former drummer of Unknown Mortal Orchestra) took the sketches Gabriel and Bud crafted, and shaped them with help from newly formed four piece of Travis Leipzig and Dana Valatka in the studio. The result is nearly a live record: Geare’s affinity for analog production techniques gives Dada Distractions a warm early ’70s vibe.
That throwback fidelity is tempered with a pop playfulness that feels like an aesthetic reboot, from the driving, fuzzy pop of “Hollywood Buyout” and “All You Have to Say” to the of billowing, five-minute-plus slow-burners “Forever Underfoot” and “Bleached Out For Nothing.” The band’s second official full-length (and second release on Portland’s Party Damage Records). Dada Distractions takes its name from the myriad diversions that filled the second half of 2015 for Wilson, throughout the absurd and selfish process of attempting to understand death. It’s an album about the bullshit that gets in the way of now—right now. This theme runs throughout Dada Distractions, and helps to make it Aan’s most profound, powerful statement to date.
Aan | Amor Ad Nauseum | PDX-005 (Feb 4th, 2014)
Aan is a fearless experimental pop band from Portland, Oregon, mixing richly textured guitars and acerbic lyrics with sugary three-part harmonies and sprawling soundscapes. Aan began as a once bedroom pop project of freakish folk balladry, but as of late, its more straightforward side has given way to deeper sonic explorations of more subliminal (and occasionally animalistic) territory.
Aan tours and performs as a four piece, often turning versions of their recordings upside down. Frontman Bud Wilson reaches octaves of the late Jeff Buckley, while maintaining a grittier timbre. The rest of the band follows suit by matching Wilson's caterwaul with cooing harmonies and a measured rhythmic pulse.
Aan's blend of discordance and harmony has earned the group touring support with alt rock juggernauts like The Smashing Pumpkins and indie legends Built to Spill. Aan has also performed alongside indie stalwarts like Wye Oak, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Red Fang, Gardens & Villa, Bosnian rainbows and many others.
The band's debut record, Amor Ad Nauseum, will be released on Portland imprint Party Damage on February 4. Recorded over two years in various studios and a cabin on the Oregon coast, the album explores themes of the devotion, desire, complacency, loneliness, and desperation. Though the locations vary, a thick sonic thread runs track to track through the release's nine songs. More confident than most debut albums and more urgent than albums from most of Aan’s peers, Amor Ad Nauseum is a sticky, lush labor of love and lust.
Aan has performed at SXSW, Noise Pop, MusicFestNW, and countless dates across the United States. With the release of the band’s new LP, Aan will resume it’s hectic touring schedule.
"[I Could Be Girl For You is] filled with distorted pop and stripped down fingerpicked tunes that paired Wilson’s schizophrenic-in-a-good-way song structures with emotionally-wrought lyrics." -- IFC
"The Portland quartet slides from snappy melodies and shimmering guitars into hauntingly catchy choruses, making for visual, vibrant, and vital rock 'n' roll." -- Artist Direct
"Painted with elements of folk, psychedelia and even surf rock, the band’s sound is vibrant but textured with humming guitars and plush harmonies that are powered by the raw, four octave-ranged vocals of Bud Wilson." -- The Bay Bridged